Protestants angered as Britain transfers five IRA terrorists

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Accused by Protestants of “buying off terrorists” to drum up support for a peace accord, Britain said Thursday it will transfer five of the IRA’s most notorious bombers and murderers to jails in the Republic of Ireland.
The prisoners — serving multiple life terms and told by the British government in January that they would never be released — include a brother of Pat Doherty, vice president of the IRA’s political ally, Sinn Fein.
Four of the men were linked to 1974 pub bombings in Guildford, west of London, and Woolwich, a southwest London district, in which a total of seven people were killed. Four men sentenced for the Guildford bombing were pardoned in 1989.
Pro-British Protestant parties denounced the imminent transfer to the republic, where the men may be released relatively swiftly, as another cave-in to Catholic nationalists before a May 22 referendum on the accord.
Chris Mullin, a British lawmaker who campaigned for the release of the men wrongly convicted in the Guildford bombing — a case depicted in the 1993 movie “In the Name of the Father” — said some of the Balcombe Street group admitted to police they’d been involved, but were never investigated.
The four have been in jail in England since 1975, with their parole requests, reviewed every five years, repeatedly refused.
In Dublin, the Irish government gave no indication when the five might be released.